January 2018 Archives

I have not written too much about my visit to Scotland in late November because I've been too busy since then to get organised enough to go through my photographs and post about my experiences. However, I will tell you all a little gem of a place that I discovered when I visited Scotland: Bad Girl Bakery. Bad Girl Bakery sells baked goods (cupcakes, cookies, bread, cakes, and everything in between, hot drinks, lunch, and breakfast). The bakery is located in the village of Muir of Ord, a tiny village/settlement located near Inverness. According to the bakery's Facebook page, they specialise in cakes and cupcakes.

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I actually made two stops here. On the first stop, I bought a cupcake and hot chocolate, and both were delicious. The cupcake was a vanilla one, and it was perfect.

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On my second visit, I stopped for brunch. We were on our way back south to England, and I got French Toast to take away. This came with bacon, maple syrup, and banana slices. I love French Toast, and it's a treat that isn't common here in England.

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Bad Girl Bakery is approximately a 25 minute drive from Inverness, so do visit if you plan to visit Inverness or Loch Ness (or passing through that part of the Highlands). Their address is: Forbes Buildings, Great North Road, IV6 7TP Muir Of Ord, Highlands, United Kingdom. Their hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm during the week, 9:00am to 5:00pm on Saturdays and 10:00am to 4:00pm on Sundays. However, check out their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/pg/badgirlbakery

Street Art Round-Up January, 2018

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The last time that I was in east London to look at street art was in mid-November, and I went back last weekend in order to see what had changed in east London's street art world. I know that the street art community in this area has changed significantly due to the gentrification of the area. This post features several new street art pieces that I discovered including works by Pad, Frankie Strand, ThisOne, Eddie Colla, Samer, Captain Kris, and others. Unfortunately, there weren't any larger-scale pieces.

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Pad painted a tribute to elephants, quoting endangered species.

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The building on Chance and Whitby Streets was given new paint; it was painted white and then scribbled over with black paint. I am not sure who the artist is, but I can see the name "Sue" on one of the sides.

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Frankie Strand and Elno collaborated on this piece with a snake and face.

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Jim Zina creates paste-ups that usually feature women illustrated onto newspaper or menus. Some of them are framed, such as the one above.

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Woskerski is a street artist who paints portraits with a bit of a sense of humour, such as this punk man dressed as Santa and flipping the middle finger.

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Street artist ThisOne is continuously adding new artwork to London's walls, and this is a very tasteful one on the side of this building off RedChurch Street.

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Bonzai painted this 2018 street art on Great Eastern street.

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Eddie Colla added this paste-up on Sclater Street.

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I could not read the artist's name for the above piece.

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This is an eye-catching mural on Great Eastern Street by John Beijer.

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Captain Kris added a promotion for his show in December.

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Samer added a colourful bird along with some work by grafitti artists.

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Last, but not least, I discovered this tiles. One has mushrooms, and the other reads "I drink so others become interesting".

London Street Food 'Wheelcake Island'

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One of the best facts about London is that you can get almost anything from another part of the world. Wheelcakes are a Taiwanese street food. Essentially, they are pancakes sandwiched together with a creamy filling. Co-founders Felix Tse and Yi-Ting Lin set up the street food business "Wheelcake Island" at the beginning of last year, and they often set up in KERB Camden street food market and Brick Lane market. I got the chance to try a wheelcake recently when I visited Brick Lane. 

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"Wheelcake Islands" have four flavours to choose from: a traditional red bean, classic vanilla custard, matcha custard, and chocolate with vanilla custard. I tried the chocolate with vanilla cream, and it was delicious, although it was a little messy ozzing with chocolate and vanilla custard. I can see why these are popular.

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I arrived just as the last ones were sold with visitors purchasing a few each, so I had to wait about twenty minutes for a new batch to be made. First, two rows of the tins were filled with batter then pushed with a wooden spoon to remove any air. After a couple of minutes, the fillings were placed on the top.

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While they baked, more batter was added to the other two sides of the tins to create the other half of the sandwich. Toppings were placed on the tops for the custard-chocolate blends, but the remaining ones were left to cook. Once they were ready, they were 'cut' and lifted out to be pressed on top of their matching half.

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While they continued to bake the half that was added later, each flavour was pressed with a different design.

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The wheelcake tasted delicious and oozed with flavour. I wished that I had bought two.

"Wheelcake Island" is located at Brick Lane during the week and (at least part of the time) on Saturdays. It is located at KERB Camden on Wednesdays.

At the end of December, Fanakapan painted a mural on Hanbury Street using his glass animal style. The image depicts two glass geese following an animal (a fox perhaps), and the animal is holding a goose in its mouth. The background is blue with white lettering, which looks like the name of the American president and the branding and colours of the political party. According to the artist's Instagram, the piece is a political message as the president is not very popular. The artwork is titled "Follow the Leader". I don't like being reminded of the current events particularly and would have preferred a more comical piece that I've seen the artist make many times and have enjoyed.

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Previous work by Fanakapan that has appeared on this blog can be seen by looking at the below links:

Peace for Manchester
Fanakapan Paints Shoreditch Clowns

Chrome Balloon Dog in Star Yard

Fanakapan Paints "Power Tools" on Village Underground Wall

Fanakapan Paints "Drunk Glass Elephants"
Fanakapan, Horror Crew, & Jerry Rugg
Louis Masai and Fanakapan: "Freedom?"
New Chrome Street Art Mask by Fanakapan
Balloon Animal Street Art
Cranio & Fanakapan
Fanakapan and Horror Crew

A Visit to Gretna Green & Moffat

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On visits to Scotland, I ususally stop at one of the two places (or both) on my way up and back again: Gretna Green and Moffat. I believe that tour buses/coaches also stop at these two places as there are usually buses here or space for bus parking. Gretna Green is a border town on the English-Scottish border, and Moffat is a bit further north-east. I will explain below why I enjoy visiting.

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First stop is Gretna Green. Because it is a border town, it had different laws such as marriage age. Becuase of this, a lot of people in the old days flocked to the town to get eloped in the blacksmith's shop over the anvil. The blacksmith's shop is still here and a museum that can be visited. The anvil is here as well, and the museum talks about the location and its history. A lot of weddings still take place here daily, and I've seen them take place. 

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Gretna Green (follow signs to the old blacksmith's shop) is a complex shopping area. In addition to the museum and a cafe, there are a couple of gift shops here and a food store. On my last visit, I saw a guy playing bagpipes.

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There are also a few notable sculptures here, including the one below featuring enter-twined hands to symbolise love.

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Down the road about thirty minutes away is the town of Moffat, a small town in the Scottish countryside. The attraction here is Moffat Woolen Mill. It used to be a working woolen mill, and there is a small exhibition at the back near the toilets of the looms and a documentary on how they work. The complex is a huge gift shop, home shop, and clothing store. I love browsing here and came back with something that I've wanted for awhile - a mermaid pillow.

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There is also a restaurant on site here, and I have eaten here a couple of times now. This time, I was with my parents, so we decided to get the special Christmas roast. This came with a cracker. I got the two course one, and that included a bowl of soup. The soup tasted delicious. The rest of the food was good too, but I thought that the vegetables were a little bit bland. They also serve afternoon tea here, and it's a lovely place to stop and have a browse and stretch legs. It's popular with older people who may be on the coach tours.

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Both Gretna Green and Moffat Woolen Mill are worth a stop when traveling through the area. Have you ever been?

Oxford Castle at Christmas

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Before Christmas, I had a quick trip to Oxford. Oxford Castle is a Normal Castle, and it was built in the 11th century to replace an older motte and bailey castle on the hill near where the current castle stands. The castle was used for administration and a prison in the 14th century, and it was left in ruins after the Civil War. It then became repaired and used as a prison, and another prison was built next to it. This was used as a prison until 1996, and then it was turned into a hotel. The medieval part of the castle, such as the tower and crypt, can be toured today. Tours are guided only and take approximately 45 minutes.

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After visiting the castle, I had a wander down the main street in Oxford, which has changed a lot since my last visit.

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I went to the Christmas market and the fudge shop. The Christmas market is just a small one with roughly twenty wooden cabins. 

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Unfortunately, we did not get to go inside the castle for a tour. We arrived in time to take the last tour of the day, but we wanted to walk around Oxford and see other places. We ended up actually making it a shopping trip instead.

I visited the Geffrye Museum before Christmas in order to see their special 'Christmas Past' display, and my visit today was to partake in the Twelfth Night fun and the farewell party. The museum is located in a former almeshouse and depicts how people lived in London in the past. It shows the most popular family room (known in the past as living room, lounge, great hall, reception room, or parlour) in the house and describes items of furniture and how people lived. At Christmas, visiting the museum is extra special because the rooms are decorated for Christmas as they would have been in the age of the room on display. Christmas is actually a fairly recent celebration. Although it was observed in the past and most-likely adopted by Christains from pre-Christain or pagan rituals, it was not on the scale that we celebrate it today. In fact, Twelfth Night and Ephiphany were the popular celebration days.

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Twelfth Night is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This would fall on the 5th of January with Epiphany taking place on the sixth of January. The word "epiphany" means "manifestation" in Greek; essentially, this is when the three wise men went to present gifts to baby Jesus. 

In the past and on the Twelfth Night in England, the wassail was sung to help the orchards and apple trees, and this would date back to pre-Christain times in the aid of the Holly Man or Green Man and the designated queen/king of the party. (I've covered a little bit about this topic in my Borough Market Apple Day post.) A yule log was also left burning until this day to protect the home.

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Epiphany was also a day to play games, sing, and to prank people. It was a day of entertainment and parties. People drank spiced drinks with ginger or cinnamon and ate Twelfth Cake, which is similar to Christmas cake (a dried fruitcake and marzipan icing). Inside the cake would be a baked-in bean and a pea, and sometimes other items were included. The finder of the bean became king, and the finder of the pea became queen. This probably was a tribute to the wassail events. It was also customary that these parts were not gender-specific, so a female could be a king and a male a queen. A Twelfth Tart was also a dessert created to mimic stained-glass.

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When I arrived, a band was playing Christmas songs, and a fire was lit in front of the museum. I also saw a large queue/line to purchase a slice of Twelfth Cake and mulled wine and for children to participate in a "lucky dip" to be queen or king for the night. I saw a smaller queue/line for the museum itself, but as I had just been three weeks ago, I did not need to return.

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Upon having a quick browse, I went back to the band when it was eventually joined by a man in costume who told us about the Twelfth Night and historical information. He also explained that the Geffrye Museum would be closed for two years as they had received the funding of roughly 18 million pounds in order to renovate the displays, add more displays, add a new entrance from Hoxton station, and open up an almeshouse for tours. So, if you wish to visit before it closes for two years, today is the last day.

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In between Christmas carols (such as "Good King Wenceslas", "The Twelve Days of Christmas", and "We Three Kings"), we were told more history of the songs and customs of the past. The king(s) and queen were also crowned and given a garland to wear.

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After nearly the last carol, I escaped the crowd. By now, the fire was warm and surrounded by a small crowd.

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For those who wish to join in the Farewell Party for the Geffrye Museum, the party goes on all day today until 5:00pm. Events will still take place on thr grounds throughout the year, and apparently, there may be a few tours of the almeshouses before the work is finished. Are any of my readers regular visitors to the museum, and will you miss visiting it when it's closed for two years?

Pantone® 2018 Colour of the Year

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The Pantone® "colour of the year" has been decided, and next year is all about PANTONE 18-3838, better known as Ultra Violet. This is a warm purple shade that expresses mystery and intrigue. It is a colour of the night sky and a limitless colour expressing hope, originality, and inspiration for the future; it is also a colour used for spirituality and wealth. Last year's "colour of the year" was Greenery, which was a spring green colour that evoked a since of rebirth and hope.

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Expect to see these colours used in the world of fashion, interior design, and other design over the next year, although I did not seen last year's colour used much in fashion. I believe that this year's colour is a more fashionable colour. Some past 'colours of the year' are listed below.

2017: Greenery

2016: Serenity & Rose Quartz

2015: Marsala

2014: Radiant Orchid

2013: Emerald

2012: Tangerine Tango

2011: Honeysuckle

1) Pantone®. https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2018 [1 January, 2018].

Christmas Past at Geffrye Museum

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Geffrye Museum, located in Hoxton in east London, is a former almshouse for poor pensioners. The almshouse was saved from being demolished and transformed into a museum of the home. Inside the museum, several of the rooms have been transformed into different period rooms to show how the middle classes lived. Each Christmas, the museum decorates the rooms for the holidays and keeps each room's Christmas design true for each time. Information panels also describe how Christmas was celebrated at each time.

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The former almshouse that is now the Geffrye Museum is built with an internal courtyard, and others followed the same pattern.

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The first room is a replica of 1630, and the communal living area was called the "hall", and this is where people would speak, conduct business, and entertain themselves. The room was covered with oak panelling. Friends would have a Christmas meal.

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Next was a "parlour" from 1695, and it was located on the first floor of a town house with the three windows overlooking the street. These types of homes were common after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The parlours were more private for families and guests to have meals. Christmas would have consisted of song and dance with snacks and a trip to the church in the evening. Christmas was low key and banned for a few years from 1644, although some did celebrate it privately.

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In the below photograph, the "parlour" dates from 1745. It was a formal room for everyone to be polite to each other, and there were set standards of behaviour in this room. In these years, people had friends over in the Christmas season (between Christmas and New Year), and they often went to church and gave to charity.

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In 1790, the "parlour" furnishment and decoration changed quite a lot. Rooms were brighter and used lighter colours with delicate decorative detail. Patterned wallpaper was used, and people enjoyed the classics. Christmas was not celebrated quite as much during this time when compared with 150 years previously when large meals would be enjoyed and the poorer would be treated to a meal by the landlords.

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The "drawing room" in 1830 was the centre of the home for entertaining and also became a woman's area with matching decor and smaller pieces of furniture that could be moved around easily. The room was known as the "withdrawing room" as a place to go to after eating a meal. At Chrtistmas, games similar to charades would be played here on "Twelfth Night", and a special pudding like a Christmas cake would be enjoyed. The cake would contain an item that donated a special title for the night to the finder.

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The 1870 "drawing room" was a large change, and more people would be commuting instead of living and working in the same building. The decor and furnishings looked more "busy", and gas lighting was introduced. At this time, Christmas came to be more similar to what we celebrate today. Previously, the decor was minimal. In this room, we see the introduction of the Christmas tree, a tradition that Prince Albert brought from Germany. Gifts were given to children, and families would attend the church services. On the piano, sheet Christmas music is displayed. The Christmas tree would have been lit with candles.

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The "drawing room" from the 1890 time was a complete change brought about in the 1870s, adopted by people who wanted an artistic style. The rooms were very stylised and detailed.

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The "drawing room" of 1910 features a room in a suburb of London in a semi-detached home. At this time, electric was in use. The cottage-style homes had hallways, fireplaces, and lower ceilings. In this time, the rooms were used regularly by families and were less formal. The terms "living room" and "sitting room" started to take over. Christmas is a bigger deal at this time, and the Christmas stocking had been adopted as  a place to put gifts for children.

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In 1935, the "living room" is a modernist design with horizontal lines and simple shapes, and the room here represents a flat. Entertaining for Christmas is important and design is with an artificial Christmas tree and paper lanterns and chains.  

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In 1965, the "living room" is of a flat and has its own heating system and space for a television to be the focal point in the house instead of the fireplace. Walls were kept clean for the colour to be used in furnishings. Scandinavian design inspired the style, and the coffee table was used.

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The last room is a 1998 loft-style apartment living room area. At this time, commercial buildings and warehouses were converted into flats and lofts. Furnishings and design is sparse, and the result of these style of homes is open plan.

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That concludes the tour of the rooms in the Geffyre Museum, which I found interesting to see how people lived. There's a lot more in the museum that I did not cover or post photographs of.

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Geffyre Museum will actually be shut for renovation work from January 7, 2018. It will be shut for two years, so do visit before then or go to their closing party, which will also be their "Twelfth Night" event.

At the end of each year, I take a look at the year in street art. I was lucky to be working on Brick Lane again, followed by Aldgate East, until the end of November. Because of this, I was able to see new street art appear regularly -- only, it didn't. This year was quiet for street art in Shoreditch, and we lost several great street art spots this year in the area. In fact, this was the deadest that I have ever seen Shoreditch's street art movement. Nonetheless, I will post a few pieces here that left an impact.

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Vera Bugatti painted one of the largest and most different pieces at the start of the year. The piece, "Teratology", was located in Clerkenwell.

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Pang, one of London's street artists that I have followed from the beginning several years ago, painted a mural "Carnival of the Weird".

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Otto Schade was a regular contributer to London's street art scene with several murals, including this one on Hanbury Street, which tied into an existing sign.

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Dale Grimshaw painted his tribal children portrait on Hanbury Street. Wasp Elder and Helen Bur also collaborated on walls. Jay Kaes, a London-based street artist, also painted quite a lot in the start of the year. Pedley Street was one of the walls he painted a couple of times.

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The Village Underground walls also hosted a couple of great pieces, including the one by SER, "Sea of Knowledge". Sr.X also painted on this wall.

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Tower Halmets Cemetery Park had at least two paint jams with various street artists to refresh the work here in Mile End with more environmental pieces. Fanakapan also painted glass clowns. Alex Senna also returned to London after a couple of years and painted a few new murals ahead of his exhibition and on Bacon and Hanbury Street.

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Zabou painted a stunning piece, Frida 2, on Broadway Market.

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Cosmo Sarson, who painted a breakdancing Jesus figure in Bristol, also visited east London and painted a breakdancing man on Pedley Street.

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'Meeting of the Styles', which paints in Nomadic Community Gardens and off Brick Lane, returned later this year to refresh the walls in the garden. Airbourne Mark painted a series called "Origami Riots, and Fanakapan painted a tribute to Manchester after the terrorist attack at a concert. 

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Lora Zombie visited London and painted some wonderful street art, but it did not last long before it was removed and replaced.

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With the sadness of the fire at Grenfell Tower, Ben Eine returned to London and painted a fitting tribute based on a poem that had been written in relation to the event.

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Some of the most stunning murals this year throughout London came from London-based street artist Dreph (the last mural in the series is here). He paints portraits of women who have contributed to society. These appeared throughout the year, and I absolutely love this series "You Are Enough". The women who are the subjects are heroes for sure, and we need more heroes today.

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FalkoOne painted a herd of elephants across London.

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Street artist Samer also painted at least a couple of walls in Shoreditch; both featured colourful birds. In Pedley Street, Samer painted a series of birds and a peacock was painted in New Inn Yard.

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Australian-born street artist Ketones6000 also painted quite a few walls in London during the summer with bees and flowers. The bees were very detailed, and he painted a series of these.

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Banksy made the news this year, and ahead of the Basquiat tour, work was created near the Barbican as a tribute in Basquiat's style merged with his own. I also visited the Basquiat exhibition this month with a work colleague, and it was an excellent exhibition giving tribute to the New York City street artist and musician. An older piece of Banksy's work (the snorting copper) also was rediscovered and repaired off Curtain Road.

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In time for the beginning of autumn and Halloween, I was happy to see that Zabou updated her wall on The Bell pub. In fact, I kept walking past sure that she would be updating it, and it appeared overnight. This time, it features 'Alice in Wonderland'.

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The best time of the year was in October when many artists were visiting for the Monkier Art Fair on Brick Lane, so several new pieces appeared. Ben Slow, TelmoMiel, and Dulk were a few of the artists who painted.

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London-based Jim Vision was probably the busiest street artist in Shoreditch this year as he returned multiple times to brighten the walls. He created some stunning work across the area on many of the walls, and he also tried to repair the hedgehog by ROA off Chance Street with his native fighters, but the whole piece was destroyed beyond repair a few months later and painted over.

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Belgian artist Juane created his stencil-based sanitation workers and put them up in Brick Lane where they interacted with the items already in place.

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Fleur De Lis street became the scene of a paint jam, and artists are now regularly using these walls to paint on. 

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What did you think about Shoreditch's street art this year? What were your favourite pieces? 

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